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Can You Explain the Dry Brush Technique?

Jan 15, 2020

There are different ways to use this technique but one way is to wait until the paint on your canvas is dry, put wet paint on your brush, and drag it, leaving a broken line. You can see it in this painting (above) around the leaf shapes. You can see places where the brush marks are kind of scratchy, or you can see through the edges. There's a little bit of texture on there. 

This version of dry brushing is a way to create the illusion of blending. Really our eyes create an optical illusion because the blending is us seeing colors that are next to each other. You have a little bit of yellow, and a little bit of red, and it's interspersing them because it's a broken edge and a broken kind of area, and it creates a soft transition.

Our eye sees it as blended; it looks different than if it was just a hard edge there. And so that's what I mean by dry-brushing and getting an edge that's soft. It's done by putting paint on the side of your brush and dragging it very lightly across. And usually, it's done at the end of the painting process when there is a bit of a transition that needs to be softened a bit.

Jed Dorsey